Coming from abroad, I was very excited to move to the UK for my studies! For many of you this will be one of the biggest changes you’ll make in your life; packing up all your things and starting a truly independent life at university. What’s important to know, however is that many of us will experience the move differently. I have some friends who were completely reluctant to move abroad, while others can’t wait to escape their abode. If you’re still unsure, have no fear! I’m here to give you advice based on my personal experience as well as share the experiences from other international students that will hopefully ease your transition of moving to a new country.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
- Tick off your to-do list as soon as possible; you don’t want things hanging over your head when you’re moving, especially when there’s time to get them sorted. Order your phone sim card and book all your necessary appointments like your bank appointment to create a new account before you arrive.
- Plan your first few days at university; there’s always so much going on during Welcome week, but be sure to book ahead. Check out the Get ready and What’s On guide for some of the more essential events, so you don’t miss you! Other things to do: buy a ticket to a concert, a barbeque or a stand-up comedy show; make plans with a course-mate/mentor you met online or just do anything that will force you to get out of the house to make sure that you don’t isolate yourself! There’s something to do! Taking that one step can lead to other opportunities like exploring your new city or meeting people.
- Learn your transport options; start of uni will be very hectic and you’ll have to run from place to place constantly, so you’ll only make yourself a favour if you get familiar with the local transportation. If you’re lost in the first few weeks around campus, look out for people with AskMe badges; as the name suggests, you can ask them for anything, including directions.
- Take your favourite items with you; you want to make your new environment familiar, so be sure to bring a few items with you that will make your new space more homely.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE:
- Get involved in language classes; still not 100% confident with your English? Getting more comfortable with the local language will make you feel better and help you with your work and studies. Many students opt for informal language ‘classes’ that are more commonly known as conversation corners, language cafes or anything along those lines. Find out more from the International Society, your course leaders or peers!
- Find out what locals do; this includes where they buy the best and cheapest groceries, where they go for a night out, what places are worth visiting etc. They’re locals, so after all they will know the tricks of the trade that can help out.
- Research about the local culture; Depending where you’re from, you may find culture in the UK really different from your home country, or it might be very similar. If you want to get familiar with the local culture, chat with your peers, staff or go online (there are a lot of resources). One difference in culture that I experienced was the greeting customs. Back home we hug and kiss upon greeting our friends and family, whereas in the UK a handshake will do!
- Let yourself be homesick; being homesick connects you to the place you were born and/or grew up in and can strengthen your connection with the people you love. Don’t isolate yourself from your home! Loved ones will have your back when you’re feeling low.
‘Moving to a new country can be stressful. Take it easy and take every challenge as a game. Stay positive and talk with people around you as you can learn a lot from them. Here, you will always find support and understanding. Also, make sure you keep in touch with your parents – they can be really curious about your new lifestyle and can help your transition.’
-Catalina Maria Vlad, ITMB (Economics and Strategy), Class of 2020
- Get involved; join a local charity, if you have a faith – go to church, join the local sports team or join a society. These are all simple ways to meet people that you share a common interest with whether that’s their love for the same cause, a mutual faith or motivation to learn a new skill.
‘Try to make as many friends as possible when you first come to the University. Engagein activities, don’t be shy, stay positive and friendly.’
-Elina Bildanova, ITMB with Industrial Experience, Class of 2020
- Keeping all this in mind, take some time to chill as well; I’m an avid planner; I keep to-do lists, bucket lists, idea lists, I have study plans, weekend plans, workout plans, anything, you name it. But I do recognise that sometimes, you just need to take a break. Try not to overthink everything and once in a while just take time for yourself and just chill. Try and get involved, try to adapt as easily as possible, but at the same time, just go with it!
‘Forget about buying plane tickets in advance so you get a good offer and forget about making lists with the things you need to buy or bring to your new home. Sure, these are important, but don’t forget to bring an open mind, positive energy and a bag full of excitement for all the new adventures that you will have.’
-Raluca-Lucia Lusca, ITMB (Marketing), Class of 2020